Enjoying the Birds in Selve Verde, Costa Rica

There are a few different ways in which I enjoy birding.  In the last post I showed photos of birds which we were able to enjoy just by sitting around, in this case, near a feeder, and let the birds come to us.  This may be my favorite way.  I get to just sit around, relax, maybe have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the birds.  Here are a couple more birds that we saw while sitting at those feeders at Selve Verde.

The first is a Purplish-backed Quail-Dove.  Wow!  What a mouthful!  These were so cool to see.  They very clearly resembled both a dove and a quail.  These were the first quail-doves that I had ever seen, so I was pretty excited to see one for the first time.


The second is an Orange-billed Sparrow. Another wow!  Such distinct markings. Several of each of these species just sort of wandered past the fruit feeders, although none of them went up to take any fruit.  Two lifers in a row, just by sitting out on the patio!


If I want to be a bit more active, I can hike a trail or two, preferably not too hilly of one as I am a bit out of shape.  After sitting for a while watching the feeders, we decided to take the short trail that is supposed to exit at the lodge.  For some reason, we always walked this trail backwards so we entered it from the lower level of the restaurant and walked backed to the entrance.  While hiking it we saw a couple of different bird species and these were a lot harder to identify. But part of the fun of birding is trying to identify the birds with my field guide. It’s a bit like a puzzle and I enjoy the challenge.  Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t.  It’s all fun. 

Here is a real challenge.  While out hiking we saw this woodcreeper.  But which one is it?


I tentatively id’d it as a Cocoa Woodcreeper based on its bill, markings, and our altitude but I could be wrong. 

We had a little better luck id’ing the next bird, a male Red-throated Ant-Tanager.  (At least I’m pretty sure.) Success!  Two lifers identified!


The third way I like to go birding is with a guide.  Usually taking a guide takes away the puzzle aspect of birding.  I don’t have to do much work to identify the birds, so I can relax a bit more and just enjoy watching them.  Usually you see and learn more with a guide as well and you get to ask questions.

At Selve Verde we went on a morning walk with a guide and as is usual, we probably saw and identified lots more than we would have on our own. 

Some of the highlights were this Black-Headed Trogon, right by the side of our path:


and a beautiful Pale-billed Woodpecker near the lodge.


There are lots of different birds and lots of different ways to enjoy birding. It just depends on your mood.

Linking up with I’d Rather B’ Birdin’  and  Wild Bird Wednesday.


Beautiful Birds at Selve Verde, Costa Rica

The rainforest at Selve Verde Lodge is a private reserve near Sarapiqui.  As you would expect of a rainforest, it is wet and humid and rains at least a little on most days.  The lodge is surrounded by the forest on three sides and also overlooks the Sarapiqui River.  It has many trails to walk but some of the best birding is done sitting at the lodge overlooking the many feeders.  These attract all kinds of fruit eaters and we also saw a few non-fruit eaters wander through.  Here are some of the beautiful birds we saw:

This Green Honeycreeper was an amazing shade of turquoise. With his full black mask and yellow bill, he was really handsome.


At first I did not realize that the bird below was Mrs. Green Honeycreeper.  Without the black face mask, and being a completely different color, she seemed like an entirely different species.  Eventually it all came clear when I consulted the field guide.


Tanagers in blue, red and green.  What more could a girl want.  This one is a Summer Tanager.


Montezuma’s Oropendola were also common.  Another amazing looking bird with bright orange bill, blue face, gorgeous chestnut body and bright yellow tail. 


The Collared Aricari looked a bit fierce with that serrated bill.  Fortunately he was only after the bananas.


All photos copyright Jonathan Moeller. 


For more great bird blogs try   I’d Rather B Birdin’  or  Nature Footsteps –Winged  or  Wild Bird Wednesday.

Specials at Albergue el Socorro

There were a few birds that we only saw while at Albergue el Socorro and then never saw again for the whole trip in Costa Rica.  Needless to say, these were all lifers for me.

The first of these was obvious the moment we went out to the road on our first morning walk.  The Crested Guans liked to stay in these berry bushes just across the road from the farm. (The toucans liked them too.)

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Later on our walk, we came to a hill top meadow where there were Oropendolas, Brown Jays and hummingbirds.  The two hummingbirds that we only saw here at el Socorro were the Brown Violet-ear


and the Black-crested Coquette.


Finally, back at the farm, Don Jose was very keen to show me the Euphonia that likes to visit his backyard, just out the back door or the kitchen window.  His wife kept a lookout for me and so this was another lifer that was easy to find at el Socorro: the Tawny-capped Euphonia.


Next post will be about our second stop for the trip, Selve Verde Lodge near Sarapiqui.

Common Birds at Albergue El Socorro

Some of the birds we saw at Albergue el Socorro were common throughout all of our travels in Costa Rica, but lots of times our best photos were at this, our first stop.  The feeders in the garden were just outside the common dining room and porch area where we liked to relax and hang out.  Watching the birds was easy from the porch and Jonathan got lots of good photos.

First was a Great Kiskadee.  He would come down to the feeder and then call repeatedly.  I would have thought he was telling everyone to stay away, that the food was all his, but it had the opposite effect.  IMG_0222

After he called everyone seemed to come around to see what all the ruckus was about, especially the tanagers.  One of my favorites was the Palm Tanager.  Despite being so drab, I thought they had a subtle beauty.  I liked the slight dusting of yellow over their head and body.


The Blue-gray Tanagers  and Passerini’s were also beautiful and abundant.


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The garden was also filled with lots of hummingbirds.  Rufous-tailed hummingbirds were especially common throughout the country.  This one was fluffing his feathers out trying to get dried off.



For more great bird blogs go to Wild Bird Wednesday or  I’d Rather B’ Birdin’.

Albergue el Secorro: part 1

For our first two nights in Costa Rica we had booked a cabana at Albergue el Secorro, a family owned and run farm that moonlights as an eco-lodge, located North of San Jose, just south of San Miguel.   It is on the Costa Rica Birding Route which is a group of lodges working together toward conservation in Costa Rica. 


Albergue el Secorro turned out to be as fabulous as its reviews indicated, but the adventurous part was in the getting there.  There are two different ways to get there and despite the fact that we were driving in the dark and in the rain, we decided to take the smaller, less well-marked, but slightly more “direct” route.  This also was the way the GPS sent us to the coordinates we had programmed in.  Oh My!  Once we left the main road we had 5 miles of mainly gravel road up and down and around very  steep hills.  At first we followed the GPS “lady” to “our destination.”  Unfortunately, where she sent us was a barbed wire gate in a horse pasture.  We thought maybe it was a back way in but with the gate closed we decided it best to turn around and try the opposite direction, hoping for a sign to our place.  This took us to an even more out of the way horse pasture.  Keep in mind that all of these roads were going straight up and down multiple hills the whole time.  We drove around on these dark deserted roads for maybe an hour and a half, but never saw a sign. At one point, a farm looked promising and we pulled in a driveway where a man came to the door in his underwear.  We decided it was probably not the right place and moved on.

We finally turned around when the road became more grass than gravel and we were clearly not on a “road” any longer.  At this point we agreed that the only thing to do was to retrace our steps back to the main road and try the more well-travelled route. This was probably about a good ten miles on bad roads but we had no other choice.  Probably should have decided to do it a lot sooner. We stopped in the nearby town of San Miguel and got decent directions though things still were a little fuzzy.  Nevertheless, with only one wrong turn because of an unmarked road, we finally arrived at Albergue el Secorro.  Don Jose greeted us, and things definitely picked up from there.
After a great meal we agreed to meet Don Jose  for a walk at six in the morning, breakfast at 7:30 and after that we would play it by ear.

The next morning, we really only walked a bit around the property but there was plenty to see.  I already posted a few pics last time, but here are a few more from that area.  More to come next time too.

Crested Guans were common and easy to find.

Crested Guan


Montezuma’s Oropendola were nesting nearby.

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Clay-colored Robins, Costa Rica’s national bird,  were common and easy to find everywhere on our trip.


More beautiful birds to come.

Happy New Year

Just  a short blog update to say Happy New Year and that I will be posting more bird photos soon.  After packing up and leaving Zambia, we have been busy getting life together back in Ohio where we needed to make lots of arrangements to get settled.  Despite being between jobs, we decided to take a vacation for our twentieth anniversary so we are in Costa Rica for ten days doing a lot of birding.  I can’t take much time out from the trip to blog but thought I would post a short preview today.  We are only on day two but have seen lots of birds and are thoroughly enjoying it. 


A female Passerini’s Tanager has her own subtle beauty.


Chestnut-mandibled Toucans are relatively common where we are.


There are many hummingbirds.  The Rufous-tailed  is the most common. So many beautiful birds.  There will be lots more to come. All photos by Jonathan Moeller.